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Brawling for a Cause

Matt Thomas brings Athens charity event to Atlanta

Most college students rush a fraternity for the fun, the girls, and, yeah, the brotherhood. Not Matt Thomas. His love for boxing and helping others motivated him to choose the fraternity at the University of Georgia known for putting on a boxing event to raise money for charity. Unforeseen circumstances, however, led to him going solo and growing the event beyond the Kappa Sigma mix. But, after years of knockout events in Athens, he has moved to a higher weight class and brought his Brawl for a Cause mission to his first-ever Atlanta installment: Buckhead Brawl.

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"There's a lot to do in Athens. There's free music or really cheap music on almost any night of the week. So I knew, if this event can survive and grow in Athens, it can probably do it anywhere and so I started thinking about expansion," says Thomas, who went to high school in Atlanta.

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Going down the night of Wed., Nov. 25, at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead, the Buckhead Brawl is a mixture of casino tables, Vegas-inspired glamour, and 10 amateur bouts with each boxer fighting to raise money for a different cause. Twenty charities are set to benefit. To sweeten the pot, Thomas connected with fellow boxing lovers and do-gooders Scotty K and Bret Mega of the morning show Scotty K & Riley on Power 96.1 and got them to agree to fight each other for the main event.

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"We were talking about how we were boxing and stuff on the air, and Matt just contacted us," Scotty K says. "We really were drawn even more to Matt and his cause than the actual idea of boxing for charity."

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Events don't always go as planned, however, and about two weeks prior to the showdown, the unthinkable happened: While sparring in preparation for his fight on behalf of Sunshine on a Ranney Day, which renovates homes and rooms for families with kids fighting cancer and other illnesses, Scotty K's nose was broken.

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"I think he broke his nose to avoid the fight," Bret Mega, who is brawling to benefit Autism Speaks, joked a few days prior to a doctor's ruling on the injury.

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"I'm not afraid of Bret if that's what anyone is thinking," Scotty K shot back. "I'm not afraid to fight him even with a broken nose."

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He won't get his chance. A doctor officially ruled him down for the count. Luckily, Thomas knows how to roll with the punches. So fighting Bret Mega in Scotty's place is Jabari Kiongozi, a popular writer for GAFollowers.com, better known as JB, who also dabbles in marketing and music. Since he had already been helping to promote the Buckhead Brawl, he just stepped it up even more by agreeing to take some punches.

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"At first I was like, 'I don't know. That's a lot of pressure. I've never fought before,'" admits the athletic Kiongozi, who has fortunately started boxing lessons. Even for an athlete, the Georgia State alum admits boxing is pretty next-level. "I'm far from a boxer."

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The charity he's brawling for is the Ludacris Foundation. Although he's "not directly affiliated with anyone at the Luda Foundation," Kiongozi says he does admire the mission. "Their philanthropic goals are really in line with mine, particularly with kids. So I really appreciate that and am glad to get to fundraise for kids."

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Still, as Scotty K proved, getting hurt is a reality. Kiongozi, however, brushes it off. "I am not as worried about what happens to me," he says. "The way I will win is by beating Bret, really everybody, in fundraising. I want to be the biggest fundraiser."



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